This it the first in a planned series of tool kits to assist educators. We warmly welcome community engagement and feedback, so we can continue developing tools that are most responsive to your needs!

“We were ecstatic when we had students requesting to test in more than 50 languages… It helps us motivate students to continue to strive to develop their language skills, especially reading and writing, and to aim for high school graduation so they can earn the Seal of Biliteracy on their diploma…”

Michele Anciaux Aoki, Ph.D., P.M.P. International Education Administrator Seattle Public Schools



Bring the SPEAK YOUR LANGUAGE campaign to your school!

We’ll help you put on an event, workshop, or seminar at your school about the importance of bilingualism.

Contact: Nimco Bulale
Direct: (206) 452-8413
Mobile: (205) 850-1163

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I encourage bilingual students in my classroom?2017-08-22T05:22:52+00:00

Join the movement to recognize bilingualism as an asset and a point of pride! Some teachers host five minute activities in the classroom, others help organize a graduation ceremony or other recognition for students who have achieved a Seal of Biliteracy on their diploma. Our Educator Toolkit is full of ideas. You are a role model for your students, so even hearing recognition from you and encouragement to speak their home language from time to time may be enough to urge them along.

I’m not bilingual myself. Doesn’t encouraging home language undermine my authority in the classroom?2017-08-22T05:22:07+00:00

No! Many, if not most, of the educators supporting bilingualism are not fluent in other languages. By encouraging students to retain their home language, recognizing it as a benefit and a skill, you are building a stronger connection to them. You may also be helping to reinforce the parental relationship and family culture, which can pay dividends in the classroom.

Extensive research is showing us that fluency in another language does not negatively affect classroom learning or hamper English learning. In fact, bilingual students may have a better attention span for classroom activities!

Finally, participating in the SPEAK campaign is a career builder for you as an educator: today’s market demands educators who can navigate and succeed in diverse classrooms. Your ability to oversee the progress and success of multilingual students will build your authority, not diminish it.

What if my student doesn’t want to test for bilingualism?2017-08-22T05:21:20+00:00

A student may not want to test for bilingualism for a few reasons. First, they may not be confident about their level of fluency. The good news is that testing allows students to earn a range of credits, so they may get partial credit, if not full. Please make sure that if your student has some fluency and literacy skills, they understand they may still earn a few credits, if not the full four.

Some students struggle with maintaining their cultural identity while trying to fit in at a new school or in the country. Whether or not they choose to test for World Language Credits, you can create great impact on them by recognizing, celebrating, and encouraging them to maintain their bilingualism. We are finding that educators have a massive impact on whether families decide to maintain home language. Our encouragement can make the difference between languages becoming extinct and directly affect how much pride students retain in who they are and where they come from.

Now that we understand that maintaining home language doesn’t hurt and may even help their ability to learn English, we must urgently encourage students who speak multiple languages to do their best to maintain them. This message must be shared with students and parents alike. Parents are following your lead on what to do for their student’s best interest. Now that we understand that speaking home language is to the student’s best interest, it is important to support students AND parents with this message. Parents will always look to you for guidance on what to do at home to make their child academically successful. Tell them: Speak your language!

I don’t know if my school offers these programs – how do I find out?2017-08-22T05:18:50+00:00

There are a number of people who may be able to help you determine this. ELL teachers, school counselors, your principal, and anyone else responsible to provide direct services to ELL students may be aware of whether the World Language Credits and Seal of Biliteracy are active programs in your school.

How do I help my students take advantage of these programs and opportunities to build their bilingual skills?2017-08-22T05:17:55+00:00

Make sure your students of all ages know how important it is for them to maintain and enhance their skills in their home language, especially reading and writing. Raise awareness about these programs with your students and within your school. Because these opportunities are newer, most students will not recognize they’re eligible without some guidance from you. Remind parents about these opportunities at parent-teacher conferences as well and emphasize the importance of home language.You can use these flyers in your conferences and communicate these messages in your home language.

Connect the student with the point person for testing at your school. If you’re not sure who that is, talk to your school counselor or district ELL director to find out.

World Language Credits are available in dozens of languages – students need to know that even if their language isn’t widely spoken at the school, it may be testable! Students will need your help connecting them with a guidance counselor to arrange next steps such as appropriate testing. By encouraging them, you could have huge impact on their graduating on time.

I’m not an ELL instructor. Is this campaign relevant to me?2017-08-22T05:18:22+00:00

Absolutely! As educators, we are in a crucial position to recognize student’s assets and steer them to success. Bilingual research is showing us how important it is to recognize and celebrate multilingualism not only for English language learners but for all students. Any educator can assist students in taking advantage of these opportunities to learn either their home language or another language whether at home, school, or in afternoon or weekend school settings. Many students lack awareness that these programs even exist. If you’re interacting with students or parents of students who are ELL, please help them sign up to be tested for credits that may make the difference in graduating on time. The effects will also be felt in classrooms at large; when we recognize diversity of culture and experience, we are creating a richer experience for students of all backgrounds.

SPEAK is about celebrating bilingualism in our schools and community at large, so it’s relevant for all of us who come into contact with immigrant families or students of diverse backgrounds. For many years, educators typically felt home life and home language needed to be separate; we now understand the science behind the benefits of a home language, and we must actively encourage home language maintenance if we want bilingual students to truly succeed.

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